Bye Bye Google Backup & Sync

I’m a huge fan of Google Photos. It’s an amazing service that lets me quickly share photos with particular people, creates interesting images from my photos and it’s a convenient way to bring my photo archive with me on my phone.

Evening in Cork City

However, the new “Backup & Sync” app from Google that replaced the old uploader is problematic.

As well as uploading my photos to Google Photos it would backup to Google Drive. I don’t care about this feature because I use Backblaze for backups. I didn’t really realise what this meant when I first installed the app.

Slieve Liag

I told it to sync my “2018” folder and it dutifully started backing up to Google Photos but I soon noticed that the storage used in my Google account was decreasing. Eventually I found the computers section of Google Drive. All my files were backed up there.

It appears that “Don’t sync to this computer” doesn’t mean “don’t sync this computer to Google Drive”. However it does mean that any files deleted in the synced “Computers” section of Google Drive will be deleted locally. I found this out when I tried to save some storage space by deleting files off Google Drive. Later that day I fired up Lightroom and it reported that a large number of files were unavailable. I opened the folder in Finder only to see the images magically disappear before my eyes.

It was “Backup & Sync” deleting my local files. It was syncing deletes “to this computer”. Thankfully the files were still in the Trash so I could restore them quickly.

Cork City Hall in the fog

So, instead of wasting my storage I need to upload things manually. I see two options:

  • Drag and drop files on to a Google Photos browser window.
  • Sync one temporary folder where I copy duplicates of my photos. I need to periodically delete those files off Google Drive which won’t matter locally because they’ll be duplicates that are deleted immediately after upload.
Grand Parade under construction in 2007

It’s disappointing that Google merged the backup and sync functionality. Google Photos is not a backup service unless you pay for storage and upload full size images. For that reason I can see why they did it.

Thalamus The Hits

Thalamus was a game developer based in the UK in the mid 80s to early 90s. They had a reputation for flashy games and and pounding soundtracks. Most of their games were highly rated and their first compilation, The Hits, had some amazing games.

Sanxion and Armalyte were among my favourite shoot ’em ups while Hawkeye had great looking parallax scrolling. I thought the Delta theme music was great but the game didn’t grab me like Armalyte did. I’m going to get that game out again later..

Still have the receipt from Turbosoft in the box too!

Thanks Commodore Format for reminding me I bought this!

Vim: Always Learning

Vi (or Vim in it’s modern incarnation) is a text editor. It’s a modal text editor. You can switch from insert mode to normal mode. Insert mode is where you type text into your document, and normal mode is where you type commands that do all sorts of functions. It’s incredibly powerful, incredibly complicated and even exiting the editor is not obvious. 🙂

So it’s always great when I dive into learning something new about Vim. There’s always something new to learn about Vim, even after more than twenty years of using it. I think there should be a Duolingo for Vim.

So, when you’re watched that, and watched it again, and again to understand it, have a look at the following presentation showing off the power of Vim without plugins.

When you just want to use Vim faster …

The power of Vim is in the commands. That also means it requires practice to learn those commands because they’re usually keyboard shortcuts. There’s no Edit menu to remind you to use something you just learned. With just a few core concepts and memorized keys or functions you can be very efficient at moving around or manipulating text.

It’s always Vi

Things I learned recently:

  • :set number relativenumber from the last video and this blog post.
  • :sfind is a game changer. I set the base path to my public_html and sfind will open a file in a new split without figuring out the path.
  • I need to install ctags.

And so much more ..

Canyon – music brings us together

Thank you James for sharing this lovely short video. I remember reading somewhere that the music that defines us, or that we "really get" is the music we hear in our twenties. This leads to disenchantment in later years because everything's changed, and it's not the same "as the good ol' days".

The thing is, you're not the only one who loves that music, and that's a wonderful bonding experience. A recent episode of First Dates Ireland (yes, yes, I'll watch it sometimes) featured a couple who bonded over music, only as friends but they now had someone to go to gigs with. Unfortunately this clip doesn't show any of their banter about music, but it's the only one I could find of them!

And this is the only time you'll read about First Dates Ireland on this blog, I promise!

Dealing with Lightroom Lens Profiles

Lightroom Classic CC supports a wide range of lenses but if you're not shooting in RAW you'll probably be out of luck if you want to apply a lens profile. All the built-in lens profiles were made with RAW files in mind. If you're shooting Jpeg then you're out of luck.

I usually shoot RAW but a few weeks ago I used Jpeg to do some street photography. All was well until I tried to correct the lens distortion. Lightroom couldn't find any lens profile! I thought my Lightroom install had been corrupted somehow. The list of lenses only included one Tamron lens, and not the right one.

After much searching and testing I figured out what to do. Paths are for a Mac. You'll find Mac and Windows paths in this blog post by the Lightroom Queen but the ideas are the same. Copy file, rename, edit, restart Lightroom.

  • Custom lens profiles go in the directory ~/Library/Application Support/Adobe/CameraRaw/LensProfiles/1.0/
  • The built in lens profiles are packaged with Lightroom, so find Lightroom in Applications, right click on it and then "Show Package Contents" to browse into it. You'll find the lens profiles in Contents/Resources/LensProfiles/1.0/
  • Look for the profile for your lens and copy it into the same camera/lens/ directory structure in the ~/Library/Application Support/Adobe/CameraRaw/LensProfiles/1.0/ directory.
  • Rename the new lens profile file, removing the " – RAW" string from the end of the filename.
  • Edit that file in a text editor and change every instance of stCamera:CameraRawProfile="True" to stCamera:CameraRawProfile="False". There will be quite a few of them for a zoom lens.
  • Restart Lightroom, apply lens profile to your Jpeg file.

St. Patrick’s Day 2018

The 17th of March this year was a very cold day. It was overcast and dreary. A bitterly cold wind blew. Ireland were playing England in rugby at the same time most parades were taking place, which makes it all the more extraordinary that people turned out at all to watch and cheer on the parades around the country.

The Blarney parade was smaller than previous years, and the crowd was definitely smaller too but they made up for it in sheer enthusiasm and good cheer. I have to salute those of the parade who walked the route dressed in uniforms or costumes. I could not have done it!

When Bob Started a Syndicate

The other day I was reading through the very last issue of Ace Magazine when I came across an "In the Works" preview of a game called Bob. It was the temporary name given to a work-in-progress game by developers Bullfrog.

It meant nothing to me until I saw the screenshots.

That looks very familiar! It was the classic Bullfrog game, Syndicate!

Bob looked like a much more complex game than Syndicate turned out to be so I'm glad the game was tweaked and tuned before release. It's one of the few games I've actually finished, except for the American Revolt add-on. I never even managed to complete the first level in that! I haven't found much online that links the name Bob to Syndicate but this great RPS article does. That was published in 2008 and it's amusing to see the comments wishing for a remake of the game. We got them, they didn't make quite the same splash as the original.

Syndicate had the veneer of strategy. You could separate out your agents and send them off in different directions, but really, the most fun was to be had when all four were rocking gauss guns and causing all sorts of mayhem!

The very last level in Syndicate was really hard. You'd last all of about 10 seconds before succumbing to superior firepower until you figured out the right strategy to complete it. If you've already played it, or know you'll never do so, check out the video below:

Syndicate was followed by the American Revolt add-on. It comes packaged with the GOG release so you've no excuse not to try it, except that it's hard as nails. I don't feel bad saying that I had no idea how to complete the first level until I saw this ..

Syndicate Wars followed as a proper sequel some time later, but IMO it comes nowhere near being as immersive and addictive as the original Syndicate. I didn't like the graphics and it didn't sit right with me at all.

A modern remake of Syndicate came out in 2012, which I bought in 2014, but it only runs on Windows so I haven't played it much.

In 2015 a spiritual successor to the original Syndicate was released, Satellite Reign. It looks beautiful, and the screenshots have that Syndicate vibe but to play it is painful.

On a more positive note, there's also Free Synd, a GPLed implementation of the Syndicate game engine. The last release was in 2016 however.

The original 1993 version of Syndicate is available on GOG. I highly recommend it. Even if your computer isn't powerful it's bound to be better than even the most expensive home PC or Amiga of the time. GOG have packaged the game with Dosbox so it's a one click install and run. The game is cheap and well worth checking out if you're a gamer.

Remember Ann Lovett

The death of Ann Lovett, a 15 year old Irish school girl in 1984 should be remembered today, International Women's Day.

She died following the birth of her son in front of a grotto on a cold January afternoon.

It was here, on the bitterly-cold, wet afternoon of Tuesday, 31 January, 1984, that Ann Lovett, a warm, clever and artistically-gifted 15-year-old girl, left Cnoc Mhuire (The Hill of Mary) Secondary School. She walked the length of Granard, past her Main Street home, to the grotto of the Blessed Virgin to give birth to her son. He died at birth. Around 4pm, schoolchildren found her schoolbag and heard her crying by the grotto. Ann was haemorrhaging heavily and suffering from exposure. They raised the alarm and a local farmer came to their aid. He ran to the nearby house of the parish priest, who said “It’s a doctor you need”. “I need you too, Father,” he replied. “The baby is dead and the little girl might be dying too.” Ann was carried to the priest’s house. A doctor was called and he drove Ann to her home. There, an ambulance arrived, far too late. Ann died in Mullingar Hospital a short time later.

15. Just 15 years old. Ireland has changed for the better but women are still second class citizens.